A generation ago, parents were worried about the consequences of watching television. before that it was radio. The effects of screens are now a concern when children, especially parents and teenagers, interact with televisions, computers, smartphones, digital TVs and video games.
This is an important age group, as the interaction with screens in the adolescence drastically increases and, as a result, the development of the brain at this age will accelerate; Neural networks are defined and consolidated in the transition to adulthood.
The ABCD study (cognitive development of adolescent brain or cognitive development of the brain of adolescents) is a $ 300 million project funded by the National Institute of Health (NIH), which seeks to ascertain how many factors affect brain development, including substance consumption, bruising, and time in front of the screen. . A recent report, part of the study, reported that while spending a lot of time using screens, it is associated with lower rates of fitness checks and the natural process associated with the "crust reduction" for some children. However, the data are provisional and it is unclear whether the effects are lasting or even significant.
Does screen addiction change the brain?
Yes, but the same goes for other activities practiced by children and several of their contexts: to sleep, homework, play football, discuss, grow poor, read or evaporate or smoke. The adolescent brain is constantly changing or "re-linked" in response to daily activities, and this adaptation continues until the first half of the 20th century.
What scientists want to know is that screens have a certain time limit that causes measurable differences in adolescent structures or brain functions, and if they are significant. Are they causing lack of attention, mood problems or reading delays or their ability to solve problems?
Have you ever seen these differences?
Not convincing. More than 100 reports and scientific analyzes have examined the relationship between how screens are used and the search for young people's welfare, emotional or behavioral differences, and changes in attitudes related to aspects such as body image. In 2014, Queen's University Belfast researchers reviewed 43 of these 100 studies; those they thought were better designed.
In a meta-analysis, they concluded that social networks allow people to grow their social contacts in a way that can be both positive and negative, for example by exposing young people to aggressive content. However, the author's report concluded that "the study of insufficiently strong causes of the impact of social networks on the mental well-being of young people".
Summary: the results are varied and sometimes controversial.
Psychologists have also tested whether violent video games are associated with aggressive behavior. More than two hundred such studies have been conducted; some links were found, but in others, no. One of the challenges in examining the aspects of exposure to these and other screens is to determine the causality: Do children who play a lot of violent video games become more aggressive or do they attract this type of content because they are more aggressive from the start?
Even if scientists find convincing evidence of measurable effects, such as the fact that three hours a day on screens was associated with an increased risk of attention deficit hyperactivity disorder diagnosed – such a link does not necessarily mean that it is consistent and measurable in the brain's structure.
Some variations are the brain development law. The size of certain regions of the brain, such as the prefrontal cortex, in which these regions combine their neural networks and the variations between these parameters between each other, is very difficult to interpret certain results. Scientists need a large number of research subjects and a much better understanding of the brain.
ABCD study, or not just that?
Yes. Longitudinal studies expect that 11,800 children will be followed up by adolescence with an annual MRI study to determine whether changes in the brain are related to behavior or health. The study began in 2013 with twenty-one academic research centers; Initial emphasis was placed on the effects of drug and alcohol use in adolescent brain. The project has expanded and now includes other topics such as brain trauma, screen effects, genetics and a range of "different environmental factors."
A recently published article allows you to view the expected results in a timely manner. The University of California, San Diego Campus study group analyzed more than 4,500 human brain examinations of puberty and correlated with the time spent by children in front of the screen (the time reported by the same children survey), as well as their indicators in language and intelligence tests.
The results were different. Some children who said they spent a lot of time ahead of the screen showed that the corrective dilution was younger than expected; But this thinning is part of the maturing of the natural brain, and scientists do not know what the difference means. Some children who said they spent a lot of time in front of the screen, which was obtained under the pressure test curve while others worked well.
It's hard to check the precision of the amount of time ahead of the screen as it was announced for yourself. Moreover, the link between fine brain structure differences and human behavior is still unclear. It is very difficult to obtain clear conclusions and this situation is complicated, because the use of brain scan is only a temporary capture: during the year some of the observed relationships can be changed.
"Diversity of results is an important public health report: this interaction with screens is not harmful to the brain or brain-related activity," the authors of the study concluded.
In other words, the measured impact may be good or, most likely, not at all significant until other investigations have proven otherwise.
But does the screen addiction not harm?
It's probably bad and good for the brain, according to the habits of individuals and their screen usage. Many people who are socially isolated – either through abuse, personal eccentricity or developmental disparities, such as Asperger syndrome – create social networks using their own screens that they could not find personally.
Given the many potentially endangered factors, it will be very difficult to separate the negative and positive effects of the physical development of the brain: from the use of marijuana, the effects of alcohol, electronic cigarettes, genetic differences, changes at home or at school until all teenagers have emotional storms.
Most parents can already find out about the biggest lack of time in front of screens: the extent to which they can squeeze other childhood experiences, including sleep, climbing fences, playing outside or getting into trouble. Although many parents, perhaps most, certainly saw several hours of television on the day they were young. Maybe your experience may be more similar than you think about your children.
Source: The New York Times